Thursday, February 9, 2012

Solar Water Heating in Cape Town

As I mentioned in a previous post, our solar geyser/water heater was installed on Monday. Today, someone came to install a timer, so that we can get our Eskom rebate (of about 1/4 of the total cost). As you may be able to tell from the picture, our roof is pretty steep, and there's no way to get up on the roof from our property. But it was still possible! I wanted to share what I learned about solar power in the last few months:
Yes, our neighbors have security cameras...
There are two kinds of solar power- water heating and electricity panels. Solar water heating is often the first step in moving towards alternate energy, because so much of South African electricity is used on heating up water (around 40-50%). It's also the simplest kind of solar power, as (in most cases) the sun simply heats up pipes filled  with water, and the heat rises to the solar geyser. There's no electricity involved in our system, but the geyser is connected in such a way that we can use electricity to heat it up on cold or rainy days.

Some people retrofit their old geyser, so that all that's on the roof is the panel. The only challenge with this is that you still need electricity to pump the water through the panel.

The cost for a geyser + panel + installation etc here in Cape Town ranged from about R15,000-R25,000. Our system had a rebate of R5332, which was the highest of the rebates we saw.

In the Southern hemisphere, the system is most effective on a North facing roof. Right now, in summer, we have scalding hot water without ever needing to turn on the electricity. Long may it last.

What's out of place here?: A timer can turn on the geyser during non-peak hours so that it is on only for a short spurt of time. 
In other news, Eug is working hard on our bed. We've never actually had a bed before, so I'm pretty excited. We may even be able to do underbed storage. You can see our benches, which we've been painting and varnishing.

And Noah loves his Malaysian tracksuit- thank you Sam and Julie. On Tuesday, he wet himself and still didn't want to take his pants off. That's love.

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